Possible for Off-Grid ?

SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
I have been looking for some options for my future system. But I am currently looking to start with Grid-Tied and then eventually move into a full Off-Grid system. I know that I need to figure out how much each device uses and also whats my normal power consumption. I am looking to buy a couple of those Kill-A-Watt meters to test out the wall sockets I usually have the items plugged into. The only issue is that I am not the only one that lives in this current home. I am looking for a smaller place to buy and do the repairs etc on myself. So the Kill-A-Watt meters will be used to test out the stuff that I use only and not everyone else. The problem with using the electric company bill is I would have to track each persons usage to see where it falls.

So the plan for that is I am going to monitor my current usages for a couple months (one for each season) and then average them based on the one that uses the most consumption as the one to times for a year of usages. The I plan to take that and build the system from that needs.

Things I am planning so far some of these I already have is the following

Security Products
Doors open/close sensors
Motion Ceiling Lights indoors
Motion Outdoor Lights
Security Camera DVR unit
Security Cameras both inside and outside
Windows Open/close & breakage sensors

Household Products
Desktop Computer
DVD Players
Internet Modem (Will change depending on service provider I end up with later)
Laptop Computers
LCD Computer Monitors
LCD Televsions
Wireless Network Routers
Various video game consoles (usually only one at a time)

anyone have any ideas on how to procede ? I know for the most part I will need to have a fairly large system if I plan to keep using electronic devices like I do. But the plan will be to eliminate stuff I no longer need as I go. I am a resident of Southwest Michigan and wanting to stay around the southern sections of Michigan.

SnakeEyes

Comments

  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    welcome,
    unfortunately, there's always stuff you forget about like a refrigerator, furnace fans or pumps on gas furnaces and boilers, and even some air conditioning for some folks in the hotter areas. this too can be influenced by other people and the numbers of them. i know it's hard to get a handle on usages even for one's self as it is variable. one can try to figure the loads and then pad those figures to allow for not just the variability, but future expansion as well as loads rarely go down or stay the same. conservation does help, but even with this we all have some days we conserve less than others days
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    niel wrote: »
    welcome,
    unfortunately, there's always stuff you forget about like a refrigerator, furnace fans or pumps on gas furnaces and boilers, and even some air conditioning for some folks in the hotter areas. this too can be influenced by other people and the numbers of them. i know it's hard to get a handle on usages even for one's self as it is variable. one can try to figure the loads and then pad those figures to allow for not just the variability, but future expansion as well as loads rarely go down or stay the same. conservation does help, but even with this we all have some days we conserve less than others days

    Exactly! I don't use a large refrigerator, or A/C Units. I am mostly just a window box fan kind of guy for when it gets too warm. The other people in the house on the other hand that is a different story. I usually have the vents to my section turned off since they tend to just go with the normal temps.

    The refrigerator that I do use is one of those dorm room or similar units. I do have a small microwave but that only gets used or even plugged in maybe like once a month. I have a couple other smaller things also like an alarm clock, cell phone charger, etc but I was wondering if this type of setup that I normally have when being on-grid and was looking to go off-grid in the future without giving up on some things that I have gotten used to having and do enjoy now. I know that there are other options that can be used such as propane for kitchen, water heaters, etc and I can also use a generator to provide some power but I do not want to have the generator running 24/7 either.

    SnakeEyes
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    you will find that even a small frig can have a big footprint with some drawing almost as much as a full sized frig. that fan motor will draw far more than you realize too even though it won't compare to an air conditioner. as you noted there are many little additions and they add up, especially when going 24/7. an option for the clock is either the windup or battery operated types that you can use a battery recharger for and some of those can be hooked to 12v to charge with. odds are you'll want a larger voltage than 12v for the battery bank and as you read other threads you will come to realize the many reasons why.

    anyway, getting back to the matter on loads, you are on the right track in trying to get a handle on just what they are. you will also find that in an off grid circumstance that you will need backup power from the batteries to supply power when solar isn't available so much like rainy days or even the shorter length of the days in winter that accompany the lowered solar intensities of the winter sun. some of us get snow reflections to help with the winter situation, but it doesn't compare to summer abilities. this is where we say to always have a generator to back you up as nothing is perfect.
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    niel wrote: »
    you will find that even a small frig can have a big footprint with some drawing almost as much as a full sized frig. that fan motor will draw far more than you realize too even though it won't compare to an air conditioner. as you noted there are many little additions and they add up, especially when going 24/7. an option for the clock is either the windup or battery operated types that you can use a battery recharger for and some of those can be hooked to 12v to charge with. odds are you'll want a larger voltage than 12v for the battery bank and as you read other threads you will come to realize the many reasons why.

    Yeah I have been reading forums for a while about this. But no one ever seems to list the security items like cameras, etc. I have been building a list of what the items state that they used but until I get the meter to do actual tests I can not be 100% sure on those numbers.
    niel wrote: »
    anyway, getting back to the matter on loads, you are on the right track in trying to get a handle on just what they are. you will also find that in an off grid circumstance that you will need backup power from the batteries to supply power when solar isn't available so much like rainy days or even the shorter length of the days in winter that accompany the lowered solar intensities of the winter sun. some of us get snow reflections to help with the winter situation, but it doesn't compare to summer abilities. this is where we say to always have a generator to back you up as nothing is perfect.

    Yeah an being in Michigan we tend to get lots of snow and currently I am surprised to not have more outside then we do right now. I have been looking at some graphs about the number of average solar hours we get are about 2-3 hours, but when I look at some other areas that list places like East Lansing, Mi it comes up at

    High of 4.71 hours
    Low of 2.70 hours
    Avg of 4.00 hours

    So I would according to those numbers seems either I need to have a farly large array setup or to include other options such as Wind to gather more charge in the available time. Wind would be a good source for me I think since we usually have a a decent breazes due to being surrounded by water on 3 sides of the state.

    SnakeEyes
  • nielniel Solar Expert Posts: 10,300 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    even security systems can change as you can add or subtract different cameras, dvrs, etc. and the led cameras draw quite a bit of current. the best bet is to use the killawatt meter as it will take out much of the guess work and calculating.

    as to the insolation for your area, try to use the closest location to you and you be the judge if you are better or worse than that place. some areas can have vastly different numbers than another just a few miles away and the only other way around that is to actual get a meter to measure your insolation over the year. i forgot what they called it and i'm sure somebody will pipe in and say what it is. you could also get somebody to do it for you for a price.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Until you move into your own place where you are the only one responsible for the bills, there is not much you can do to really save money. Even if you do "extreme" conservation, it will still be hard to ask the other two to pay 40% of the bill each, and you pay 20%.

    And, measuring/conserving will be your first big step--and usually much more cost effective than solar (grid-tied or off-grid).

    For some examples, the average north American home uses around 1,000 kWH per month. We live in a very mild climate, have natural gas, and are down below 300 kWH per month (and even hit 170 kWH per month when we tried really hard and before the kids got bigger). Look at the average loads over 24 hours per day / 30 days per month:
    • 1,000 kWH per month / (30 days per month * 24 hours per day) = 1.39 kWatts = 1,390 Watts average load 24x7
    • 300 kWH per month / (30 days per month * 24 hours per day) = 0.42 kWatts = 420 Watts average load 24x7
    • 1,70 kWH per month / (30 days per month * 24 hours per day) = 0.24 kWatts = 240 Watts average load 24x7
    A 1,000 kWH per month is less than a single 1,500 watt electric heater plugged in and turned on 24x7.

    240 watts is around 1x desktop computer plugged in and running 24 hours per day and nothing else.

    If your bills are large (electric stove, electric hot water, large computer server, etc.), then you have some things to aim at before you start looking at LED motion detector lights and cell phone chargers.

    If you are at 100 kWH per month or less, then virtually any load is worthy of research and/or action (using a switched power strip to turn off TV/DVR/Stereo/etc. when not in use).

    Also age of the appliances matter... I have a decent 20 year old CD / Stereo that draws almost 40 watts when turned "off". My current TV only draws ~1 watt when turned off. The newer appliances, in general, are much more energy efficient.

    And the choice to go grid tied or not--Also depends on where you move too... The utility may or may not allow Grid Tied solar. And their billing system may be in your favor (1 year net metered contract) or they may only give you wholesale replacement credit for your power (typically $0.05 per per kWH or so).

    And going off grid will never save you money vs being on grid--Unless the utility power is over a mile away from your home... Off grid power is expensive... Typically around 10x the cost per kWH of on-grid power for most people.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,361 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    I know I have said it before,, but it must be mentioned.

    Why do you want to go "off grid" when you have a perfectly good grid available? Off grid power comes at twice the cost and half the efficiency, resulting with kwh cost roughly 4 times that of grid tie PV.

    Unless your grid is hopelessly unreliable, which is probably not the case in N. America, a stand by genny for power outages, coupled with a grid tie PV system, all started by good conservation is by far your cheapest PV alternative.

    If you as worried about Armageddon, end of the world solutions, a battery based system has limited usefulness over time as well.

    Just my I opinion, and I am sticking to it!

    Welcome to the forum, good luck keep in touch,

    Tony
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    icarus wrote: »
    Why do you want to go "off grid" when you have a perfectly good grid available? Off grid power comes at twice the cost and half the efficiency, resulting with kwh cost roughly 4 times that of grid tie PV.

    Well I live now if someone sneezes it seems the power flickers. Okay thats a slight exageration but every time we have a somewhat large storm we loose power for atleast a couple days. We currently have a 7500watt generator that we use for back and our house has been upgraded to allow running the full house off the generator.
    icarus wrote: »
    Unless your grid is hopelessly unreliable, which is probably not the case in N. America, a stand by genny for power outages, coupled with a grid tie PV system, all started by good conservation is by far your cheapest PV alternative.

    Well I am in the US and our local grid sucks. Which was why I am looking for other options. I want to start with grid-tied and then go into working my way to full off-grid setup.
    icarus wrote: »
    If you as worried about Armageddon, end of the world solutions, a battery based system has limited usefulness over time as well.
    icarus wrote: »
    Just my I opinion, and I am sticking to it!

    Welcome to the forum, good luck keep in touch,

    Tony

    Thanks for the information Tony, and nope I am not one of those 2012/2013 end of the world "nutcases" I didn't believe the world was going to end in 2000 and the same thing now. It just seems that when someone starts to want to be relying on themselves more then requiring someone else to keep them in comfort they are automatically an apocalypse thinker person. Which is not the case for me atleast.

    I am looking to start with more adding solar powered lights for the house, then moving some of the electronics such as radio, tv, etc as I can afford. I don't plan to start say like tonight go and have my power shutoff and live on full solar. I want to ease my wall in and adjust as I go.
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    niel wrote: »
    even security systems can change as you can add or subtract different cameras, dvrs, etc. and the led cameras draw quite a bit of current. the best bet is to use the killawatt meter as it will take out much of the guess work and calculating.

    Which was why I plan to actually do the measuring of the units I have. the good thing is that my DVR system all the cameras are powered by the single DVR unit. The system that I have is rated at 12V 5A which is "supposed" to be enough to power the camera and the DVR itself. But considering that it has a 500GB Sata hard drive inside the unit that is not a SSD type but more the traditional drives I doubt that it only pulls that much power.
    niel wrote: »
    as to the insolation for your area, try to use the closest location to you and you be the judge if you are better or worse than that place. some areas can have vastly different numbers than another just a few miles away and the only other way around that is to actual get a meter to measure your insolation over the year. i forgot what they called it and i'm sure somebody will pipe in and say what it is. you could also get somebody to do it for you for a price.

    Yeah I only could find one site that did that and the closest it had to me was Lansing which was about 2-3 hours away from me.
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    BB. wrote: »
    Until you move into your own place where you are the only one responsible for the bills, there is not much you can do to really save money. Even if you do "extreme" conservation, it will still be hard to ask the other two to pay 40% of the bill each, and you pay 20%.

    And, measuring/conserving will be your first big step--and usually much more cost effective than solar (grid-tied or off-grid).

    Which why I was going to do the monitoring on my power consumptions for the time being and see where I can and where I need to figure out ways to cut or limit some of the more power hungry things.
    BB. wrote: »
    If your bills are large (electric stove, electric hot water, large computer server, etc.), then you have some things to aim at before you start looking at LED motion detector lights and cell phone chargers.

    Well my plans was to start adding some solar powered items to my house when I move to my own place and not living with others in the same place. I was going to add things that will ease my way into thinking more of a less than the average oh its too dim in this area so lets add more light sockets etc/ I was looking at just a few solar powered lights that are low powered just to make it easier to see versus 100% darkness. Kinda like a hallway light that keeps you from kicking the table etc type of thing.
    BB. wrote: »
    If you are at 100 kWH per month or less, then virtually any load is worthy of research and/or action (using a switched power strip to turn off TV/DVR/Stereo/etc. when not in use).
    BB. wrote: »
    Also age of the appliances matter... I have a decent 20 year old CD / Stereo that draws almost 40 watts when turned "off". My current TV only draws ~1 watt when turned off. The newer appliances, in general, are much more energy efficient.

    Most of the items I have are fairly new the only thing that i have that are old are some of the HAM radio stuff I am looking at buying, and my classic video games such as the NES, etc. Also a old CRT tv that is only used for when I want to play the older gun games since they are not compatible with the LCD, Plasma, LED TV's. But that is only like maybe once or twice a year.
    BB. wrote: »
    And the choice to go grid tied or not--Also depends on where you move too... The utility may or may not allow Grid Tied solar. And their billing system may be in your favor (1 year net metered contract) or they may only give you wholesale replacement credit for your power (typically $0.05 per per kWH or so).

    Yup but I figured that if I only wired the items directly to the solar power setup and not connected at all to the normal standard house wiring that would not matter. Kinda like how comcast cable doesn't get connected with your aeriall antenna. Totally different to the situation but I see it as the same type of idea. If the area I plan to move into does not allow for a tied system then I will have to look for other options.
    BB. wrote: »
    And going off grid will never save you money vs being on grid--Unless the utility power is over a mile away from your home... Off grid power is expensive... Typically around 10x the cost per kWH of on-grid power for most people.

    -Bill

    Yeah I know that standard power options are cheaper in the long run but I am looking at more of the self reliance life style versus "There is a wall socket for that" mindset.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    All reasonable responses... In the end, there is designing a system to support your known (and unknown) loads--Or design a system based on your current finances and then see how much of your loads you can reasonable support and if it meets your needs.

    For example, say you want to spend no more than $5,000 and that works out to be, roughly a 1kW solar array, a 320 AH 24 volt battery bank, and a 24 volt AC inverter... (just some real rough/round numbers for example). For Flint, a fixed 1kW array with 0.52 derating (panel to AC outlet efficiency) would look like (using PV Watts):
    "Station Identification"
    "City:","Lansing"
    "State:","Michigan"
    "Lat (deg N):", 42.78
    "Long (deg W):", 84.60
    "Elev (m): ", 256
    "PV System Specifications"
    "DC Rating:"," 1.0 kW"
    "DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.520"
    "AC Rating:"," 0.5 kW"
    "Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
    "Array Tilt:"," 42.8"
    "Array Azimuth:","180.0"

    "Energy Specifications"
    "Cost of Electricity:"," 8.3 cents/kWh"

    "Results"
    "Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
    1, 2.65, 43, 3.57
    2, 3.60, 53, 4.40
    3, 4.42, 70, 5.81
    4, 4.95, 73, 6.06
    5, 5.38, 79, 6.56
    6, 5.57, 77, 6.39
    7, 5.88, 83, 6.89
    8, 5.45, 77, 6.39
    9, 4.98, 70, 5.81
    10, 4.01, 60, 4.98
    11, 2.60, 38, 3.15
    12, 1.97, 31, 2.57
    "Year", 4.29, 752, 62.42
    I start with assuming 9 months of solar power only (or at least mostly) and the other ~3 months will need backup power of some sort (or drastic conservation).

    So that makes February with 3.6 hours of sun and 53 kWH per month the "9th" month were you will "break even" based on average power usage.
    • 53,000 WH per Feb * 1/28 days per Feb = 1,893 WH per day (Feb avg)
    That is a "reasonable" off grid/cabin system... Is is reasonable for you?

    Is a 24 or 48 volt battery bank OK for you, or do you need a 12 volt for your HAM and other needs (note, AC inverter assumed to be around 85% efficient in above calculations--so 12 volt direct usage may give you some help--with the costs of 12 volts; heavier wiring, possible more solar charge controllers, etc.)? Etc....

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Bill that sounds about right for what I am looking for but I am not sure about the numbers that i will need exactly yet. I am looking for a local place that carries the meters but looks like I may need to get them online since no one around me even knows what they are it seems.

    Where did you find that information? Was that a website that i could access to get the information ? I know the elevation because of installing my own satellite dishes and needing to hit the proper location of the birds in the sky. But the peak sunlight hours etc that i do not know for my local areas.

    SnakeEyes
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Sorry SnakeEyes,

    I usually paste the link in so people can follow my reasoning:

    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculators/PVWATTS/version1/

    -Bill :blush:
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Thanks Bill for posting that link, I understand sometimes things just slip the mind every so often. :D

    Using that page my area is not listed on there so going to the closest options being

    Grand Rapids -> about 1hr 30mins from me
    Lansing -> about an hour from me

    When I click on the "Run PVWATTS v.2 (US only)" I get to a flash based page that allows me to enter my actual zip code and gives me some data
    "PVWATTS v.2: AC Energy and Cost Savings"
    "Station Identification"
    "Cell ID:","0246366"
    "State:","Michigan"
    "Lat (deg N):", 42.88
    "Long (deg W):", -85.52
    "PV System Specifications"
    "DC Rating:"," 4.0 kW"
    "DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.770"
    "AC Rating:"," 3.1 kW"
    "Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
    "Array Tilt:"," 42.4"
    "Array Azimuth:","180.0"

    "Energy Specifications"
    "Cost of Electricity:"," 7.5 cents/kWh"

    "Results"
    "Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
    1, 2.46, 241, 18.15
    2, 3.34, 295, 22.22
    3, 4.40, 420, 31.63
    4, 5.02, 445, 33.52
    5, 5.44, 481, 36.23
    6, 5.71, 476, 35.85
    7, 5.49, 463, 34.87
    8, 5.28, 453, 34.12
    9, 4.91, 416, 31.33
    10, 3.74, 335, 25.23
    11, 2.31, 204, 15.37
    12, 1.86, 178, 13.41
    "Year", 4.17, 4408, 332.01

    I didn't change anything from the original form I just scrolled down and hit calculate to see what the base readings was.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Looks close enough for government work. ;)

    You can plug in:
    • "DC Rating:"," 4.0 kW" => 1 kW
    • "DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.770" => 0.52
    You will get the numbers that make sense for my mythical 1kW off grid system...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    okay Bill just did that and the numbers are now
    "PVWATTS v.2: AC Energy and Cost Savings"

    "Station Identification"
    "Cell ID:","0246366"
    "State:","Michigan"
    "Lat (deg N):", 42.88
    "Long (deg W):", -85.52
    "PV System Specifications"
    "DC Rating:"," 1.0 kW"
    "DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.520"
    "AC Rating:"," 0.5 kW"
    "Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
    "Array Tilt:"," 42.4"
    "Array Azimuth:","180.0"

    "Energy Specifications"
    "Cost of Electricity:"," 7.5 cents/kWh"

    "Results"
    "Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
    1, 2.46, 39, 2.94
    2, 3.34, 49, 3.69
    3, 4.40, 69, 5.20
    4, 5.02, 74, 5.57
    5, 5.44, 79, 5.95
    6, 5.71, 78, 5.87
    7, 5.49, 76, 5.72
    8, 5.28, 75, 5.65
    9, 4.91, 68, 5.12
    10, 3.74, 55, 4.14
    11, 2.31, 33, 2.49
    12, 1.86, 29, 2.18
    "Year", 4.17, 724, 54.53

    does that look like a good option for my local area?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Yep, the output looks reasonable... Remember that these are long term averages (20 years or more) and may vary by +/- 10% year over year, and you may have week of gray weather where you only collect 5-10% of the sunny weather power you would normally get.

    More or less, if your long term numbers are within +/-10-20% of the predicted output--You are doing well. If you are within 5% of predictions, you are lucky (or made a mistake :roll:;)).

    So back to the other question--how much power is enough for you to be happy with the solution?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    BB. wrote: »
    So back to the other question--how much power is enough for you to be happy with the solution?

    Well to be honest right now I do not know exactly how much power is consumed by just me. I have been making a list of all the devices that I own and that could be used. But without the actual readings from the kill-a-watt meter I can not figure out the true ratings and power drains. That is the next step I plan to do is to buy 3 of them and plug the surge protectors I have into the kill-a-watt meters and monitor them for a month to get a chart made of [Daily|Weekly|Monthly] for them.

    But if I am reading those numbers correctly seems like I have a few things that either need to be limited to hours running or find an alternate option to use for powering it offgrid. Like the desktop computer which is a server unit that I have. It is the backend server for my TV DVR system. it currently has a 600watt power supply in it but I think that i can get a smaller unit and not have any problems since the items that are in the system was chosen for lower power needs. but I do not thing that I can go lower than 400 and not encounter problems with the system needs.

    So from what things running around in my head about the off-grid system. I think the smarter starting point for my area would be looking into a wind turbine and then solar might be a better option. Since even at night we have lots of times where we have a breeze still. I know that if a wind turbine gets spun too fast they shutoff (or atleast from google things I was finding before). I think it would still be a good idea for me to plan out the system planning to only has some things on the offgrid setup and then rewire more things to be for offgrid use as I can expand the system with new panels, batteries, etc

    -SnakeEye
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,361 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    As a piece of advice given but not asked for,, do your homework about small scale wind. Most people, including many on this forum have been very unsatisfied with small scale wind.

    The irony of small scale wind is if you have enough to be useful ~12 mph AVERAGE or better, you have too much wind for the hardware to handle long term. High winds and bad weather raise hell with bearings and wind components, and repairing them under less than ideal conditions is often difficult.

    For example, the ~500 watt AirX series which seems at first glance to be a great idea, will put out an average of ~1kwh/day for most people. That for a ~$800 unit plus installation. 250 watts of PV will produce the same amount of useable power, for under $500,, with little installation cost, and virtually no service required. I would posit that few small wind turbines will run 20 years without major service.

    Do a real wind study on your site. Most people who think they live in a windy area, are very surprised that they may have a lot of wind,, but not a lot of reliable wind. As I said, unless you have 12 mph averaged 24/7 365 is pretty rare.

    Tony
  • Volvo FarmerVolvo Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 209 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Ur still living at home huh?

    It's cool. You can learn a lot about this stuff trying to take one room off grid.

    If I was you, I would take a couple solar panels, some batteries, a charge controller and a small inverter and start taking loads off the grid and see what happens. Don't start messing with wind turbines yet, solar is simpler to start out with.

    Good luck!
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,744 admin
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Look really long and hard at any Wind Turbine system... The turbines themselves, end up usually being the least expensive part of the total installation. Towers, wiring, battery bank, controllers, etc. all add really quickly,

    And unlike solar PV installations, which are pretty easy to predict their actual output and fairly maintenance free, Wind Turbines tend to require a fair amount of work to keep operating (at the top of a 60+ foot tall tower). So, a bucket truck, crane truck, or tilt down tower is needed for your ~once a year inspection/maintenance.

    Personally, I am not a big fan of small wind. There are a few installations which seem to work well, but, for the most part, those are people that seem to be doing their own work (and even sometimes building their own turbines and towers).

    There are a few web forums that do work more with wind than this forum:

    Wind Power Links
    www.otherpower.com (good forum for DIY Wind Power)
    Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric site for tons of info (from mike90045)
    www.greenpowertalk.org (added from "russ"--Like here but more wind/less solar)
    www.builditsolar.com

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,361 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    I beat you to it Bill,

    Tony
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    icarus wrote: »
    As a piece of advice given but not asked for,, do your homework about small scale wind. Most people, including many on this forum have been very unsatisfied with small scale wind.
    icarus wrote: »
    Do a real wind study on your site. Most people who think they live in a windy area, are very surprised that they may have a lot of wind,, but not a lot of reliable wind. As I said, unless you have 12 mph averaged 24/7 365 is pretty rare.

    Tony

    Thanks for the advice Tony, I was just saying that it sems like my current area has more wind then listed available hours of peak sunlight for solar but still interested in both of them. I do not own the land yet that I plan to install the on/off grid stuff yet. So this is still a major planning idea and always looking for more information on a subject. Where I live currently I can have a single solar panel but thats about all.

    i will definately mark that on the list of checks for any properties that I am interested in for my home. How much does a Wind and Solar survey cost if paying someone to do them? Whats a good way to do them yourself ?

    SnakeEyes
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    Ur still living at home huh?

    It's cool. You can learn a lot about this stuff trying to take one room off grid.

    If I was you, I would take a couple solar panels, some batteries, a charge controller and a small inverter and start taking loads off the grid and see what happens. Don't start messing with wind turbines yet, solar is simpler to start out with.

    Good luck!

    Yeah I live with others and since I do I can't just tell everyone else they need to cut back on these because I want to go solar, etc.
    BB. wrote: »
    There are a few web forums that do work more with wind than this forum:

    Wind Power Links
    www.otherpower.com (good forum for DIY Wind Power)
    Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric site for tons of info (from mike90045)
    www.greenpowertalk.org (added from "russ"--Like here but more wind/less solar)
    www.builditsolar.com

    -Bill

    Thanks again Bill, More information to read and learn hehe.

    I currently have a 32ft Antenna tower, and in the progress of getting another one for the HAM radio stuff. If I was to go into the wind area I would be looking for a tower that would be easy to work with. The one I have now is fine for what I needed it for.

    SnakeEyes
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,361 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    The accepted standard for wind is that a wind turbine needs to be placed AT LEAST 30' above any surrounding obstruction within ~500',, a tough nut to crack in most places. Most people suggest installing a recording, data logging anemometer on the location for a year to get a good average wind measure.

    As for solar,, PV watts is a pretty good place to start, then you have to look at local site conditions like trees, hills, potential seasonal and daily shading issues. For off grid PV to work 100% in higher latitudes year round, one usually needs a system that is much larger than one that does nearly 100% for 80% of the year.

    For example, we have short winter days, but with reflection off of snow and ice, we can come close most of the time, but generator run times are of course longer in December and January.

    It all becomes a trade off between dollars and output. If you have enough money, you can do anything. As a simple comparison, we live off grid. We have 400 watts of PV, and we use on average 5-800 wh of power. This is with a propane fridge, no TV, no desk machines, no video boxes, sat boxes etc,, in other words,, very little power use. We cook with propane, (including toast) have no micro, crock pots, hair driers etc. If we had a conventional fridge, we would probably double our use. (If I was going to do it again, I would build a bigger system and get a conventional fridge.

    So, at a minimum one would need ~1000 watts of PV to power a very minimal lifestyle. Few people can do with about double that,, say 2 kw. That same 2 kw system might cost ~$10-15,000 all in. Add to that, your batteries (which account for ~1/3-1/2 the cost) need to be budgeted for replacement every 5-10 years, adding a considerable annual cost to any system. Also add in the cost of replacing electronics (CCs/Inverters) etc about every ten years. This all for a system that will likely deliver ~ 4 kwh/day on average over the course of the year.

    That same $10-15k will buy twice as much grid tie PV, and will yield about twice as much power on an annual basis,, so you can easily see why grid tie is the deal that it is. Coupled with utility rebates and tax credits that are probably not available to off gridders, and the price goes down even further.

    Many who have thought about going "off the grid" because they don't like thier utility, or they want to be independent soon realize that the grid is their best energy asset.

    Tony

    Tony
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    icarus wrote: »
    Many who have thought about going "off the grid" because they don't like thier utility, or they want to be independent soon realize that the grid is their best energy asset.

    Tony

    Hey Tony,

    That is about correct for what I was originally thinking. I was wanting to start off being gridtied and start moving items off the grid as I went along. Starting with like lights etc. I know that by the time I would be able to go completely off the grid it would not be a cheap route and was why I was wanting to do it in stages.
  • TheBackRoadsTheBackRoads Solar Expert Posts: 274 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Grid tied solar is wired for higher voltages (panels) and uses different inverters than off grid stuff. Now there are some exceptions if you do AC coupling or something along those lines... but generally you take a different approach to an off grid vs on grid solar setup.
  • PhotowhitPhotowhit Solar Expert Posts: 5,025 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?

    Just some thoughts(with out reading through the other posts) I often use a laptop or a minimal service computer to do things I would normally do on a desktop. Even photoshop chores, though my PS is only version 7 and I use to run it on a 300Mhz celery stick with a screeming 256MB Ram(Ram cost more than the computer in the day) very few programs require the big number crunchers, CAD and video editing, huge posters in photoshop. I've been surprised how well PS runs on the 15 watt, 1500Mhz appliance computer, though I rarely use it for this.

    Also as you replace electronics and other things keep a close eye on the evolution, My energy star 22" TV of 4 years ago uses about the same electric as my LED LCD 32" current TV.(bought refurb at NewEgg for $200 delievered so you don't have to forgo cheap stuff)
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Prosine 1800 and Exeltech 1100, 660 ah 24v ForkLift battery. Off grid for @16 of last 17 years. Assorted other systems, and to many panels in the closet to not do more...lol
  • SnakeEyesSnakeEyes Registered Users Posts: 14
    Re: Possible for Off-Grid ?
    Grid tied solar is wired for higher voltages (panels) and uses different inverters than off grid stuff. Now there are some exceptions if you do AC coupling or something along those lines... but generally you take a different approach to an off grid vs on grid solar setup.

    That was what i was thinking also. But I still need to find the property to buy in the area so I have sometime til like August. Plenty of time to plan the systems out.
    Photowhit wrote: »
    Just some thoughts(with out reading through the other posts) I often use a laptop or a minimal service computer to do things I would normally do on a desktop. Even photoshop chores, though my PS is only version 7 and I use to run it on a 300Mhz celery stick with a screeming 256MB Ram(Ram cost more than the computer in the day) very few programs require the big number crunchers, CAD and video editing, huge posters in photoshop. I've been surprised how well PS runs on the 15 watt, 1500Mhz appliance computer, though I rarely use it for this.

    Also as you replace electronics and other things keep a close eye on the evolution, My energy star 22" TV of 4 years ago uses about the same electric as my LED LCD 32" current TV.(bought refurb at NewEgg for $200 delievered so you don't have to forgo cheap stuff)

    It is nice to know that smaller powered machines are still able to be used for a good computer. I don't run Microsoft Windows on my computers so the average programs like Photoshop etc I do not use. I am a Linux user so the versions I use are like G.I.M.P. which is free. Yeah most of the items I have are fairly new within the last few years but a couple of them I refuse to get rid of like my old Nintendo NES. Even though I could play all the games using a laptop and emulators I still prefer the actual items.

    SnakeEyes
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